At the end of each spring semester at Westminster, the Westminster Choir travels to Charleston, South Carolina for Spoleto Festival USA. We serve as the chorus-in-residence, and join renowned artists as well those emerging for spectacular experiences both as performers and audience members. The festival was founded in 1977 by composer Gian Carlo Menotti, Christopher Keene, and a company of passionate individuals seeking to create an American version of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. Charleston was the perfect city with its historic churches (great for choir concerts!), numerous theaters, and a relaxed, yet polished, cosmopolitan downtown.
Today was move-in day, and choir members travelled by air and land to Liberty Street apartments in the heart of downtown Charleston. Our living accommodations are a college dormitory, with a nicely sized bedroom with living area for every two people.. adjoining another room for two with a common bathroom. My roommate is my fellow alto and dear friend, Mary, with whom I have shared space on every single choir trip we have had together in the past two years. We are sharing a bathroom with two other very good friends, Kyle and Johnny. Kyle is very much like a brother to me, and just like I often showed my brothers how much I loved them by pulling harmless, funny pranks, I have a number of ways to let Kyle know exactly how much he means to me during our time together in Charleston. I won’t say too much yet as he might be reading this, but I will say that the squirt guns have all been distributed.
After we settled into our rooms, we had a full choir orientation meeting led by John and Allison, both members of the choir and the official choir managers for the festival. These two organized and capable individuals are the choir liaisons with the festival administration, and they keep us all abreast of rehearsal schedules, costume fittings, payroll, etc. Once our meeting concluded, choristers distributed to reacquaint with favorite nightspots (like Gin Joint and Social), to memorize music (our first rehearsals are tomorrow!), or just go to bed (some people had been up since 3:00 am driving). Kyle generously went from room to room helping people hook up to the internet services provided, and of course there was some singing in the halls. It is great to be back.